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Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Week That Was, may 14, 2017

     In a bold attempt to disenfranchise the town of Wilson, Wisconsin, Kohler Company has petitioned to annex the site of its proposed fifth Pete Dye-designed golf course into the nearby city of Sheboygan. Clearly, Kohler is fed up with environmental regulations and planning processes that have prevented it from breaking ground on the 18-hole track, a venue it believes “could one day rank as one of the top 50 in the world” and create “an annual, multimillion-dollar positive economic impact.” Kohler’s gambit is evidence of exactly how desperately it wants to build the course, which is slated to emerge on part of a 247-acre parcel just a short drive from the Dye-designed golf complexes at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. Not so long ago, Kohler had Wisconsin pretty much all to itself. In a few weeks, however, Erin Hills will host a U.S Open, and by this time next year Sand Valley might be the state’s top golf destination. The stakes are high, and the battle for the money spent by traveling golfers has only just begun.

     Nearly everyone has at one time or another dreamed of vacationing on Fiji, but only a tiny fraction of us actually do it. That sad fact helps to explain why the island’s Momi Bay Resort, once touted as “one of the brightest jewels in the Fijian tourism crown,” has of late been described as “a ghost town,” with a nine-hole golf course that’s overgrown and unplayable. The resort was initiated sometime after the turn of the century by Bridgecorp, a New Zealand-based investment group that went belly up in 2007. Today the 305-acre property is controlled by Fiji’s government, which has apparently given up on finding a private-sector buyer but still hopes to complete a master plan that features hotels, “over-water luxury villas,” a marina, and other attractions. Momi Bay reopened a month or so ago, with a Marriott-branded hotel and a promise to eventually open a 27-hole golf complex. The parties involved haven’t announced a construction schedule for the golf complex, but they understand that it needs to be “world class” if Momi Bay’s second life lasts longer than its first. As for the resort’s defunct layout, it appears to have been designed by Mark Miller, an architect based in Arvada, Colorado.

     Pipeline Overflow – An affiliate of FLC Group, one of Vietnam’s premier golf developers, has secured permission to build a massive resort on an island in Quảng Ninh Province. FLC Faros Van Don has master-planned its 10,000-acre property to include, among other things, a casino, 1,400 vacation villas, 3,500 hotel rooms, a safari park, and four golf courses. Faithful readers will recall that FLC Group is responsible for FLC Sầm Sơn Golf Links in Thanh Hóa Province and FLC Quy Nhơn Golf Links in Bình Định Province, and its to-do list includes FLC Đong Hoi Golf Links, a Mission Hills-inspired spread along the Central Coast that will feature 10 courses. . . . Greg Norman’s first golf course in Colombia is taking shape on waterfront property roughly 20 miles north of Cartagena, a city that “the Living Brand” believes is “one of the most incredible destinations” in South America. The 18-hole layout will be the centerpiece of the nation’s “first ecological golf and beach community,” a 685-acre spread that’s expected to include as many as 2,000 single-family houses, villas, and condos as well as hotels, meeting space, and a town center. . . . As part of an effort to spark tourism, the state government in Mizoram, India expects to open an 18-hole, “international-standard” golf course sometime next year. The track has been designed by Graham Cooke, a prominent Canadian architect who’s worked in India previously (he created Tarudhan Valley Golf Course in Haryana) as well as in Finland, Italy, and the United States.

     The fate of Palmetto Pines Golf Course has officially been sealed. Over the next few years, slowly but surely, the 27-hole, Arthur Hills-designed complex in suburban Bradenton, Florida – a venue described by the Bradenton Herald as “one of the area’s most inexpensive and relaxed golf links” – will be converted into a gated subdivision. The complex’s demise comes as no surprise, of course, because Pat Neal, a well-known residential developer, bought the 210-acre property (reportedly for $15.1 million) in 2006. Neal Communities recently announced that nine of Palmetto Pines’ holes will close this year, and the remaining holes will close as its houses sell. Palmetto Pines opened in the mid 1950s, and it once had 36 holes.

     Desolation Row Extended -- Elected officials in Decatur, Illinois have voted to close Scovill Golf Course at the end of the 2017 golf season. Scovill has operated since the 1920s, with an 18-hole, Tom Bendelow-designed layout that was redesigned by Dick Nugent in the early 1990s. Last year, a local publication named it the number-one public course in Central Illinois, and on at least two occasions Golf for Women magazine has identified it one of our nation’s top 100 courses for women. . . . Also slated to close at the end of this year’s golf season is River Cliff Golf Course, a nine-hole track in Fremont, Ohio. Adam Crockett has agreed to sell River Cliff to a land conservancy, reportedly for $900,000, but the 75-acre property is expected to eventually be transferred to the Sandusky County Park District. Crockett owns two other courses in Ohio, Green Hills Golf Course in Clyde and Woussickett Golf Course in Sandusky. . . . Time has just about run out on Lakeview Golf Course, which has operated in suburban Boston, Massachusetts for 99 years. The nine-hole, executive-length layout, owned by the late Bill Flynn since 1973, will be replaced by two dozen condos for seniors. The construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

     Based on an examination of data on the internet, Business Daily Africa has determined that more than 8,100 Kenyan golfers have posted handicaps, and it believes that others may soon do so. It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that the vast majority of the people described as “handicapped golfers” – 83 percent – are men.

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